Saturday, January 31, 2015

The H.A.R.D. Corps #25 and #26 (Classic Valiant)

Sigmund Heydrich, the director of superpowered paramilitary group The HARD Corps, has insidious plans afoot. He's imbued himself with the Omega power, which has made him akin to a god, and his first act is to order the HARD Corps to execute their one-time enemy Earl Simkus before he can build another device that can block their powers, or worse, fatally set off the failsafes in their brains. While the team leaves to find Simkus, Heydrich has dark intentions for the Corps rookies...

This story is the game-changer for the series, where the HARD Corps realize the true circumstances of their comas, and turn against Omen Enterprises, leading into the climactic events of the last four issues.

Prior to that revelation, the team are sent on a 'locate and execute' mission in regards to Earl, and while while some members are reluctant with the idea, specifically Hotshot (who's had the most connection with Earl), it makes sense why they decide to go through with their execution orders. The events of Issue #25 definitively convince them that he's an extreme danger to the Corps if he's alive. Though of course, they don't kill Earl when he tells them the truth about Heydrich, and that leads into the final storyline of the series.

The remaining parts of this plot concern Heydrich's machinations for the HARD Corps rookies, who he grooms into his own personal army, manipulating them into killing 'dangerous Harbinger Foundation higher-ups'-Really Omen Enterprises board members who want Heydrich to resign.

The writing here is very good, and there's one pretty hilarious line that comes from a thug when Wipeout raids a gang's hideout-"Whoa! Flying man! I'm gone!"

The characters here are very well-handled, from the main HARD Corps team to the Rookies, and Earl Simkus is made rather sympathetic. The guy's whole life has been brought down around him, and the only people left he thought he could depend (the Harbinger Foundation) on attempt to murder him. The guy's been an arrogant and narcissistic self-titled genius, and this story is a huge reality check for him.

Heydrich's turn to villainy is very well-handled, and fits in perfectly with his character. He was never quite evil up until this point, but he's always been enough of an amoral scumbag that such a development isn't out of nowhere.

Grasshopper has appeared before, but she never got much of an introduction. Despite that, she's likeable, and her character arc is compelling, and very well-written! It's just a shame that it never gets a conclusion due to the series ending.

The art in these issues is decent, but suffer a few problems, specifically concerning Heydrich, who's positions and expressions are so over-the-top cartoon-villainous that it's almost hard to take seriously at times. Elsewhere, faces are sometimes a bit off, eyes are buggy here and there, and there's one moment where the HARD Corps approach some cops to gain custody of Earl, and Hammerhead is civilly talking to a police officer, but the art bafflingly shows him firing an arc charge at them! This is a pretty big artist-to-writer miscommunication!

Another problem is the lack of vomit when Grasshopper throws up after killing her target. This would be fine, as I don't wanna see puke in a comic, but the problem is that this shot is a rear-view one, behind a bannister balcony, so we can plainly see that despite her throwing up, there's nothing coming out!

The covers here are both quite good! Issue #25's is stylish, and Heydrich looks amusingly over the top! #26's is good too, but the somewhat blocky artwork for the guy pulls it down a smidge. Otherwise, it's pretty neat in how the cover uses a more minimalistic tone.

This two-parter of The HARD Corps is great stuff, and we're in the home stretch now. Only one more story from this series left before the end...

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